Cleat Geeks

Wrigley Weekly Wrap-up

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The Cubs will have to make a push to the World Series this season without young slugger Kyle Schwarber. An MRI at a local hospital on Friday revealed a torn ACL and LCL in Schwarber’s left knee and a severely sprained ankle. Schwarber collided into Dexter Fowler while chasing a ball driven into the left-center field gap during Thursday’s 14-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. “Everyone who knows Kyle was sick watching that play,” team president Theo Epstein said. “Just devastated for him because he’s worked so hard. He’s such a great person. He’s such a great teammate. He’s such an important part of our identity and the organization that you hate to see anything bad happen to him,” he added. “Let alone devastating news like this and not being able to play baseball for the rest of the season. My heart went out to him. All of our hearts went out to him.” Last year, Schwarber rocketed through the farm system, changed the dynamic of the clubhouse and the lineup with his energy and left-handed power. He generated 16 home runs and an .842 OPS in less than 300 plate appearances and then he generated five more home runs in the playoffs.

“We have to follow his example,” Epstein Dexter+Fowler+Kyle+Schwarber+Wild+Card+Game+RYVORGqB1fvlsaid. “In the wake of this injury — this horrible personal news — he’s putting the team first and talking about winning and talking about staying connected to the team.” Epstein added: “Twenty-four hours ago, I thought we were really well positioned to win, in large part, because of Kyle’s presence on the team. And now we’re really well positioned to win for Kyle.” The expectation for Kyle is that he will have knee surgery within the next few weeks, or as soon as the swelling and stiffness subsides. Before this horrific injury, the Cubs hadn’t decided on his long-term future – catcher or outfielder – but right now it’s too soon to know if he will ever be back behind the plate again. “It all depends,” Epstein said. “If everything goes the way we want it to go with the surgery and the rehab — and he comes out the other side with a full range of motion — there’s a chance it won’t impact him at all going forward once he’s back on the field. He (might have) the exact same physical abilities.” He also added: “But, obviously, I think what we’ll do is an assessment once he’s through the surgery, through the rehab and we’ll weigh the situation at that time. If there are additional risk factors with catching at that point, then we will reassess. But that’s not definitely the case. And it’s certainly too early to say that and probably not an appropriate time to speculate on it.”

“The hope would be a very successful surgery, a very successful rehab, with the most important factor being the patient’s work ethic and determination — and Kyle is on the top of the charts as far as that goes. That will serve him well through the rehab process, and then he comes back as good as new.” But will he be back in time for Opening Day next season? “It’s too early to tell,” Epstein said. “We have to get through the surgery and get a better feel for the length of the rehab. But one thing that was communicated clearly is when multiple ligaments like this are involved … it’s significantly longer than the six months that you can sometimes come back from (with an) ACL (injury).” Epstein said they can’t put an exact timetable on it but “we have all the faith in the world in Kyle to come through it.” He will remain at the Cubs’ spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona until he is ready to travel back to Chicago. On Saturday, Kyle took to Twitter to thank the fans for the support.

Like many other Cubs fans, I’m heartbroken over this. I feel horrible for him. I was looking forward to his first full season with the team and seeing him crush some more baseballs that would travel on top of the video board at Wrigley. Get well soon, 12.

Update: Kyle Schwarber was cleared to fly on Saturday for Monday night’s home opener. He will see doctors on Monday and the assumption is he’ll make it out to the white chalk when his name is announced during pregame ceremonies.

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The Cubs have recalled infielder Munenori Kawasaki to take Schwarber’s spot on the roster. He will serve as infield depth and will be a highly valued clubhouse presence until Javier Baez is ready to come off the DL, which is likely to be later this month, at which point Kawasaki will most likely be sent back to Triple-A.

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Jon Lester says the new clubhouse is a bigger issue than the home opener for the team. Lester, who will start Monday’s home opener, said he and his teammates plan to stop by their new clubhouse at Wrigley Field to get used to their new and expanded surroundings. “The biggest thing for us getting into the clubhouse,” Lester said Sunday. “I don’t think anybody is concerned with it being the home opener. It will be game (seven) for us. I don’t think guys are worried or concerned about it. The biggest thing is figuring how to get in and out of the clubhouse. None of us have been there.” He also added: “None of us know where the door to get in, where we’re supposed to put our fingerprints. I think that’s the biggest concern for all of us. But as far as the festivities, I think everyone is excited to get home. It’s been a long trip to be on, and I think guys are ready to get home and get settled and be ready to get back to Wrigley.” Lester also says that the newness should not be a problem when he prepares Monday. “I get there early enough to where it shouldn’t be an issue,” Lester said. “We got enough people to lead you to where you need to go.” The Cubs will take on the Cincinnati Reds for their Wrigley opener on Monday night.

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